The new boss at Burt's Bees made his public debut in the Triangle this week.
This morning in downtown Raleigh, general manager Nick Vlahos helped kick off the Planet Earth Celebration. He competed against Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker in a contest that involved making a strawberry-lemonade smoothie using a blender powered by a stationary bicycle. (Meeker won.)
Part of Vlahos' job at Durham-based Burt's is to reinforce the company's image as an environmentally friendly and socially conscious business. The company sells lip balms, lotions and other personal-care products made from honey and other natural ingredients.
It's developed a loyal following among fans of its green mission. Vlahos' participation in the events this week signals that he's sticking with the community outreach role that was embraced by former CEO John Replogle, who quit in February.
The Planet Earth day, which Burt's has sponsored for four years, "is an event that epitomizes our culture," Vlahos said.
Burt's will hold its annual tent sale as part of the festivities tomorrow in Raleigh.
Vlahos, 43, said he's been interested in running the Burt's business since Clorox bought it three years ago. Vlahos, a 15-year Clorox veteran, jumped at the opportunity when Replogle left.
Vlahos also held his first all-employee meetings this week. Burt's employs about 350 people at its Durham headquarters and manufacturing facilities.
One thing he told them: Clorox isn't planning any major shakeup at Burt's, and he expects to keep the headquarters here.
"While we're always evaluating operations and people, this is home for Burt's Bees," he said. "We're committed to Durham and the Triangle."
He has spent the past few weeks meeting employees and learning more about the business. One goal is to continue Burt's international expansion, especially in Asia and Latin America, he said.
"We're interested in accelerating growth," Vlahos said. "We plan on continuing to be the fastest-growing business in Clorox. We certainly won't go backwards."
For now, Vlahos is commuting to work from the San Francisco Bay Area, where Clorox is based and his wife and four children live. His family plans to move to the Triangle after school gets out in June, he said.
After growing up in the Midwest and living on the West Coast, Vlahos said he's looking forward to getting to know this area.
Vlahos is an Indiana University graduate who joined Clorox in 1995 as a sales manager. He previously was vice president of the company's Laundry, Brita and Green Works brands.
Correction: Vlahos didn't help build a Habitat for Humanity house in Cary this week.